M.I.N.D.ful Monday Musings #032
Current State Of Mind
Hello beautiful humans!
It’s definitely been an interesting week, mostly filled with lots of feedback on my last newsletter. At the time of this writing there has been 707 shares of my last newsletter in 7 days which is by far the most popular written piece of content that I’ve ever put out in my over 10+ years of creating intellectual dance content.
Maybe the last newsletter got so much traction because I talked so openly and directly about race.
Shameless plug: some of you bought me digital coffees and that is 1000% appreciated. If you are able to support my writing and content in that way through a coffee or 100 coffees, you can do so here.
It would be awesome to have recurring income through small subscriptions and/or a Patreon-like support system. I wonder how many you all reading would be open to supporting me and my content in this way. Putting out to the universe to soon have the income to easily afford virtual assistants to help edit my audio and video content!
Alright this will probably be my longest newsletter to date! My brain just seems to go on a roll at times. Make yourself comfy!
The feedback so far has been entirely positive, either genuinely or performatively. Many people thanked me for my vulnerability and bravery to share thoughts and feelings that they have felt for a long time. There are few people that have opted out of fusion due to a lack of skill level, inspiration and diversity/inclusion. Who knows how one would even track the increases and decreases of the population of a particular dance scene.
I want to answer the two most common questions I received in regards to last weeks newsletter, and then share the list of mental tangents that I’ve been pondering that I guess can inspire this newsletter for the next couple of weeks because I can’t make this week’s newsletter a novel.
There’s a part of me that does believe that I have books inside of me waiting to be written.
Two questions I’ve been asked a lot.
- How do I feel about all of the visibility of the post?
- Was there a particular outcome I was hoping for or wanting?
For the first question, I feel somewhat neutral about the feedback. Yes, there’s a sense of ego, fulfillment, and appreciation of having my ideas be shared so much. This was definitely unexpected. From the month of September after feeling reinspired to get back on my content game, I wanted to focus on being consistent every week with this newsletter and this is week number of 11 in a row.
Part of me feels sad that so many people felt the same but were scared to speak up. Could a KPI (key performance indicator) of a dance scene be the openness for leadership to continuously solicit and give space for feedback for their communities?
Now that I think about it, since I’ve started coding I’ve noticed several coding languages actually have annual online surveys to get a pulse of the developer community. Even Pornhub has an annual review of statistics and searches. What would it take to develop this in the dance world? Are there any social dance conferences?
I know a lot of the dance world went through some heavy shifts through the pandemic with political division, perspectives over BLM, safer spaces, and cancel, excommunication, zero tolerance culture.
I’m not an expert in all this at all, but I do remember seeing some pretty crazy cancel campaigns. All this to say is that it seems, at least in the fusion scene since that was the scope of my last newsletter, enough people are afraid to speak their concerns. It would take some work to even figure out what their true fears were about.
Second question, I wasn’t looking for a particular outcome; I didn’t offer any solutions. I suppose reflecting on the end of my post I made a statement of not feeling safe. I’m not going to wait for or fight for white people’s acceptance and recognition of my talents or humanness.
I will never be nor do I need to be perfect to be treated fairly and with respect.
This may be an oversimplification but there are things within our control and outside of our control. I understand we are social creatures and in ideal situations thrive in a wholesome community and at times there are points one needs to hunker down and focus on self preservation. Community involves other people and other people are outside of our control.
I was struggling to find out what to focus on to write this week because there are so many tangents that I touched on in my list. Here’s where my mind is currently: the list is in no particular order:
Note: I also realize that some of my points are zooming in and out of the scope of within the fusion scene, zooming out to partner dances in general, to further zoom out to everyday life. As such, these ideas are definitely still formulating and unpolished.
Thoughts post viral newsletter
- Are the social dances just for Black people, and white people don't belong?
- What does anti-racism allyship look like in moments of 1-on-1 conflict? in a community?
- How can we cultivate and support BIPOC educators in the dance scene?
- How to navigate wanting to be a Black educator but pushed into the stereotype of the Black entertainer?
- How are Black men treated and how do they treat each other in situations of conflict?
- The harshness of the American judicial system against Black men and the reflections of that showing up in conflict (perceived and actual), miscommunication, and shared spaces in and out of the dance scene.
- What currently has more “importance” in our society “pronouns” or anti-racism efforts to undo centuries of systemic racism?
- What does true diversity & inclusion look like versus just for a segmented marginalized group?
- The takeaways from the video with Dr. Raquel Martin on her two points:
- The first is that individuals cannot claim to specialize in a certain area if their expertise is solely based on working with European Americans.
- The second statement is that descendants of European Americans need to acknowledge and work on their historical involvement in dehumanization and white supremacy, which makes it difficult for them to see people of other races as human.
- The takeaways from the video with Dr. Raquel Martin on her two points:
- What did continued efforts of anti-racism look like in the dance scene?
- What consistent and sustainable steps can we take to put more money into the hands of BIPOC artists and causes?
- Is the answer hiring more BIPOC artists to put more money in their hands?
- Laura Glaess is an awesome intellectual dance creator in the Lindy Hop space, and I've noticed in her YouTube videos she mentions in her YouTube videos: "50% of the money made from this channel is donated to organizations that support African Diasporic art forms, because Lindy Hop is a Black dance, and preserving and cultivating Blackness is very important to its identity. My current charities are: Black Lindy Hopper's Fund: https://blacklindyhoppersfund.org/ National Jazz Museum in Harlem: https://jazzmuseuminharlem.org/"
- Do Black people really care about partner dancing if from our mainstream Black culture media it doesn't seem to be a focus?
- Why are we waiting to be let into predominantly white spaces versus creating our own spaces?
- Does this tie into being behind the ball economically due to slavery and segregation, at least in the scope of the US?
- Why is whiteness associated with wealth and prestige and access and beauty and acceptance, and white approval linked with safety and success?
- Is it possible to create safer and more inclusive spaces that make it easier for people of color to show up?
- What are the barriers preventing people of color from showing up to more dance spaces?
- How do we accurately identify what is appreciation versus appropriation in the dance scene?
- If instructors of the culture travel globally to spread their dance and inspire people in other countries. How do the people of non-origin countries continue to "pay hommage" to the source of the culture while also really that partner dancing does not represent all of the culture of a particular country? Meaning all Cubans do not dance or know of salsa, all Angolans don't dance or know of kizomba, etc.
- How does appropriation and appreciation overlap with globalization?
- How do we provide the steps and resources to educate, train, and improve instructors, DJs, organizers in the dance scene at large?
- How to navigate our self-awareness and lived experiences through our different lenses of identity?
- racial identity
- sexual identity
- gender identity
- national identity
- ethnic identity
- cultural identity
- Who are we without any of these things?
- How much do these identities shape our experience in the world?
- How to balance the victim mindset versus owning the power in our privileges?
- How does one navigate their scales of privilege and marginalization?
- If we focus so much on our marginalization, do we forget we also have power in our privileges?
- How do we create safes spaces to seek support and care from the things you are marginalized on but also not allow the marginalization to overwhelm of take up so much of your identity to where you feel powerless?
- How to recognize and own the power we have and the privileges we benefit from to seek to create the future we want and become better allies for each other?
- How does one navigate their scales of privilege and marginalization?
Obviously I can’t write about all of these points in this newsletter. For now, I’ll choose 2-3 points each week and be sure to include other topics. This week I choose 4, 5, and 6.
Point 4: How are Black men are treated and treat each other in situations of conflict?
On Black males, harsher sentencing, and mass incarceration. If you’ve never watched the 13th amendment documentary, I highly recommend watching it. Here’s a video of 13 facts from that documentary.
The first one highlights that black men make up about 6.5% of the U.S. population but 40.2% of the prison population.
How do these statistics, and they way we are portrayed in stereotypical media affect the way black men are viewed in moments of conflict (perceived or actual) and miscommunication that is typical of the average human experience? Would these be a potential source of conscious and unconscious micro-aggressions?
It’s a bit of a mindfuck to reflect on situations and wonder if the color of my skin at play adding a negative bias in certain situations or is it more accurate to assume that it’s never not adding a negative bias to situations?
This is also not a white person only issue, I feel it’s also internal in the way that Black people treat and view one another.
Point 5: What currently has more “importance” in our society “pronouns” or anti-racism efforts to undo centuries of systemic racism?
I don’t really want to get into comparing who’s suffering more, however, my mind can’t let go of this question. Is it a valid question? No idea.
In last weeks newsletter I mentioned that white QND had this fascination to mostly focus on their marginalization and forget about the power in their privileges, mainly their white privilege.
Is the absence and/or limiting of BIPOC representation in the fusion scene conscious or unconsciously creating a distance from using the power of their white privilege to be allies for other marginalized groups?
Dr. Raquel Martin in her IG video with point #2 mentions:
"We put so much emphasis on, you know, individuals of African descent have to deal with the impact of what has been done to them and damage that has been done to them. Barbaric and inhumane damage, adultification, dehumanization, impact of supremacy. And I said, that's right.
And also individuals of European American descent have to work on the fact that your ancestors were typically the individuals who were on the offending end of dehumanization, adultification, white supremacy, genocide, sex trafficking, ethnic cleansing.
So it likely is considerably more difficult for you to see people that look like me, people of the global majority as human. And as a result, even though you may not be an enactor of white supremacy, which I'm not saying that you are, you've consistently benefited from it. So it's likely more difficult for you to even see people that look like me as human and you have to work at that."
It’s a complex perspective. This point overlaps with point #10 of why even wait to be accepted into these spaces versus just creating our own. Granted I can see how BIPOC people don’t have the same access to resources socioeconomically.
It’s a mental effort to remember as an African-American that Black history DOES NOT begin with slavery.
At the same times, what is the psychological and economic impact of centuries of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration that still affects us today?
I don’t have a pulse of everything happen in our modern society, but I feel pronouns and gender dynamics are more in the forefront of todays media and these causes benefit from white privilege for increased visibility.
Remember a few years ago when everyone and the mama was pro-BLM and we talked about change and reform and changed our FB profiles pictures to support the cause of equal human rights and that enough was enough for systemic racism to finally be uprooted?
I remember being a host of a live Facebook event put by some fusion organizers during that time and it was an awesome experience. I also wonder what has the continued efforts been to raise Black voices since then when our media attention is set somewhere else.
If it’s not a continued effort to work on anti-racism and it’s just a one-off “hoorah”, are those efforts just performative? Can there be different scales of periodic check-ins for accountability of follow through however often (daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually)??
The tradition, for lack of a better term, of broken, and empty promises to do better and right wrongs can be extremely disappointing to reflect on as a Black person.
I do want to make sure I'm clear and careful to not fall into an either or scenario. I feel it's possible to fight for both causes continuously on these and many other fronts to better our world.
Point 6: What does true diversity & inclusion look like versus just for a segmented marginalized group?
In her IG video Dr. Raquel Martin with point #1 mentions:
"You should not be able to state that you specialize in something if the only population that your research or that your clinical work has been with or that your education has been with when it comes to that population is European Americans.
For example, there are so many people who state, I specialize in depression. I have published countless research studies and done all of these assessments and all that. And then when you look them up, all of their work has been done with European Americans.
Am I stating that you don't specialize in depression? No, I'm stating that you can only share that you specialize in depression with European American individuals. I am not negating your specialty. I am just simply stating that you're not really aware of what your specialty is because you can't state that you specialize in a wealth of individuals if you only work with one group of individuals."
If we take this example and swap out her use of depression with diversity, and the scope from mental health professionals to the fusion scene, we get something like:
You can’t say you specialize in true diversity and inclusion if the diversity & inclusion is only including a select demographic of marginalized, particularly the white QND (queer & neurodivergent).
What does a true diverse space look like?
One moment comes to mind a few years ago, I was invited to a “lifestyle” club for the first time here in Austin. Austin can be seen as pretty white, and my experiences with lifestyle places is that I’m usually one of the few, or only, Black people present.
I was worried about this being the case again and being sought after for the color of my skin in a very stereotypical way. I checked the flyers online for their previous events and it was predominantly photos of white people.
Long story short, to my surprise it was THE MOST diverse alternative lifestyle space I’ve been to. There were Asian, White, Latino, Black, and even some Indian couples! I felt so much more at ease about racial dynamics and I was able to focus on other activities happening in the space.
I’m not sure what their track record has been to be able to achieve this diversity at a lifestyle club, and I guess it gives some hope that if a lifestyle club can do it, maybe there’s hope more dance events can have more diversity.
A final thought for the current state of mind section, I received some feedback that my last newsletter was "spicy", "crunchy", "ballsy", etc. It's always interesting to get feedback on how our communications land. For the record, I'm not upset, or angry. I don't have a pitchfork in my hands. I'm not looking to cancel anybody.
At worst, I feel I'm hoping to challenge us to take a look around and ask uncomfortable questions and stay with those uncomfortable questions without continuously sweeping them under the rug.
I think I'll end this section of the newsletter for now. If you got this far, I appreciate you immensely!
Thanks for opening another newsletter, and enjoy the rest of your week!
Song I'm Currently Jamming To
I just got off a podcast interview with William Araujo, so let's share one of his current hits, Suleban, which I learned today means I'll go with you.
- A quirky post from 2018 when I went on a ramble about the fetus vortex.
- A teaching moment from my time in Warwick going over T-Bone entries from saidas.
- A breakdown of the snippet of time I took to build out the recurring events feature with WCWD.
- A reel breaking down a reverse J-Hook Exit from my time in Warwick.
- A reel about missteps in your dance journey.
- A reel of a practice session with Rika in Boston earlier this year tinkering with CCW touch steps rotations.
- A carousel on actively seeking out feedback in your dancing.
- An image of the communication channels in a dance class and the 42 channels being used with the timeframes of before, during, and after a dance class.
- An image showcasing the 6 lanes of kiz.
- The 16-count phrase mapping worksheet is now available for download!
Photo of the Week
One of my cats Charlie that seems to have an unlimited tank for attention.
Dance Meme of the Week
An oldie but a goodie!
Cool Video I'm Watching
Gonna share video from Laura Glaess breaking down jig walks as she is definitely one of my intellectual dance content inspirations.
12/1-4: Attending Elevation Zouk Festival (Available for Privates) - Denver, CO
01/11-15: Attending Interfusion Festival (Available for Privates) - Arlington, VA
02/23-26: Neokiz Weekender in Guadalajara, Mexico
05/3-6: Neokiz Weekender in Edmonton - Edmonton, AB, Canada
05/17-20: Kizowna 2024 - Kelowna, BC, Canada
07/20-24: 8th Annual Neo Kizomba Festival - Austin, TX
Question Of the Week
I'm gonna skip this section due to the surplus of questions I posed in the current state of mind section.
Answer of the Week
How do I improve at collecting and organizing my thoughts?
This gets into Building A Second Brain methodology and the C.O.D.E. framework which stands for:
C - Capture
O - Organize
D - Distill
E - Express
Here's a video going into further detail if it inspires you.
You can view past newsletters here.
Dope Dance Resources
- A cool project to create a global directory of dance events for dancers, artists, and organizers!
- Find out how you can thrive at your next dance event with the Ultimate Dance Event Survival Kit.
- Find out how you can organize your dance journey with the Dancer’s Training Journal 1.0.
- Level up your kiz online with Mr. Neokiz!
- Learn more about the Ultimate Musicality Course For Dancers to level up your musicality!
- Get the 16-count phrase mapping worksheet download for free!
- Join me at my urbankiz festival in Austin, July 18-22, 2024!
- The WhereCanWeDance.com Podcast - Check out my dance podcast!
Thanks for reading!
Thoughts and feedback on the newsletter or on anything covered within are always welcome, just hit reply. The thing I love most about writing this newsletter is follow-up interactions with readers.
Feel free to forward this to other friends in your circle!